How COVID-19 Could Usher in the Era of the “Digital Nomad Visa”
Next time you head to Bermuda, bring your laptop
Once the purview of plucky freelancers, the working life of a digital nomad could soon be a reality for many salaried employees. In the past, the “as long as I have my laptop” mindset has attracted scores of gig economy vets, willing to invite the potential wrath of immigration authorities so long as it meant getting to spend consecutive months in London, Cape Town and Bali, all on a patchwork of tourist visas.
But the pandemic has shuffled the status quo, and certain countries — especially those that rely on tourism — have already started waiving the red tape, in an effort to let anybody stop by for a few months, and make a foreign locale their office. As Pieter Levels, founder of the digital nomad online resource Nomad List, recently told Skift: “Once the work goes remote, that gives people the chance to first work from home, then work outside the house in a cafe for example and then work a bit on their holiday. [But] once they’re there, a percentage might consider to extend that holiday and make it their main lifestyle.”
While many people’s first selections — the Italys and Spains of the world — haven’t yet casualized the framework for an extended stay (you’re still looking at a work visa), islands like Barbados and Bermuda, and Easter European countries like Estonia and Georgia, are now offering a new sort of “digital nomad visa.” In Bermuda’s Work from Bermuda Certificate Program, for instance, which opened to registration this week, visitors only have to be able to prove that they have sufficient healthcare insurance, and pay an online fee of $263. Then they’re free to come and work in the country (and leave) as often as they like for up to a year.
The initiative has coincided with an uptick in flights to the island, and fostered a new, natural partnership between the island’s immigration and tourism authorities. While the departments usually operate separately, success in a post-pandemic world will require some cross-cabinet cooperation. For Americans, meanwhile, this news should be promising. When travel is back up and running again (remember, Europe is still closed to Americans) many offices will still have a drastically different day-to-day. Recent surveys of office managers have revealed that over 80 percent plan to keep flexible work-from-home policies once the pandemic is “finished.” That could now easily lead to a couple months of work-from-Bermuda.
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